(Con)temporary Art

A selection of short looping videos I created using Vine are being featured as part of the #Wondermation Projection Series at the BRIC House in Brooklyn, NY. The series, featuring 25 international artists, will be screened on the exterior of the gallery space, free and open to the public daily from April 30 to May 14, 2014.


TiredWater FeatureReverb ArcProperty Lines

Full details are listed on the BIRC website.


Going out with a POP!

The City of Calgary was extremely proud of their achievements throughout 2013 and wanted to get the word out—fast.

In the past, their Annual Report was used to showcase their  yearly achievements, but releasing the info in May was simply too late.

A digital infographic, optimized for mobile social media distribution was the solution—something eye-catching and sharable. The City wanted it’s citizens to spread the word, and they did in high numbers, generating 5-10 more views than average on their news blog.

Check out the full infographic here or visit calgary.ca/yyc2013.

Infographic Satisfaction

Visualizing data is a complicated process, especially when working with 77 pages of statistical information. Toss in the added complexity of representing the opinions of 1.2M citizens in Canada’s 4th largest city, and you’ve got your work cut out for you.

But, that’s exactly what needed to be represented—a myriad of complex details coming together to represent the voice of the citizens in a big city. It’s an eye-catching invitation for the engaged and disengaged alike to dig in and find out more about The City of Calgary‘s performance.

In the end, I’m 93% satisfied with how it turned out … which is pretty dang satisfying.

View the high resolution (PDF) graphic on calgary.ca.

50mm of Canmore

The Calgary Flames: Ignited

The 2013-14 season is the beginning of a rebuild for the Calgary Flames—a perfect opportunity to refresh their look and develop a voice that speaks confidently about the journey ahead.

The Ignited campaign focuses on a new Passion, Potential and Purpose the team and the fans can look forward to experiencing together:

The Calgary Flames are ignited with a new sense of passion, potential and purpose.
This is hockey in its purest form — a love of the game that unites our team with our fans. It is talent, new and known, generating a new level of energy and excitement. It is emotional, entertaining hockey and a drive to be the best.
This is the Calgary Flames: Ignited

And, since the team itself looks nothing like it did before, neither should their home. The Scotiabank Saddledome is now adorned with over 2,000 ft² of complimentary graphics, billboards, signage and posters (pictured below) to reinforce the message.


Whatever it Takes

The Calgary Stampeders first home game of 2013 is one week away. Do Whatever it Takes to get your Season Tickets now … before it’s too late.

Photography by Fritz Tolentino. Check out a few Behind the Scenes video clips.

“Where have you been?!”

The less you see on Design.ca, the busier I’ve been. Plain and simple. I suppose that’s a good thing … just not very effective promotion.

All in all, 2011 turned out to be one for the ages, both personally and professionally. Only problem is, I find myself (i.e., this website) at the bottom of my unending priority list. I have lots of great work to share … and a few oddities worth checking out too, I just need to hunker down and do it. Check back soon for (back-dated) updates.

For now, check out these shots I snapped since my last post — some local, some tropical … even a few bilingual, all worth a second look. Enjoy.


Huzzah! Today marks 6 years of I.R. DESIGN.

On anniversary’s such as this, I like to look back. I like to think happy thoughts; I feel I’ve done some pretty good work (the volume alone is overwhelming), but there are definitely a few disappointments too.

So … this year, I’ve decided to showcase 6 projects from the last 6 years that, for some reason or another were killed, buried … deep-sixed. Enjoy!

Deep-Six: ABL Imaging Poster

In early 2007, a local digital imaging company, ABL Imaging, moved into a new location below ground and asked me to help them develop some creative to liven the entrance up. I figured since this was their forte, we should could big … real big. Over 20′ tall.

The concept was simple — big, vibrant and flashy. The underlying concept, which was applied to the postcard I created below, was to bring the fact they are now “underground” to the forefront by integrating roots and other organic elements.

Last I checked, the space was still empty (but that was a while ago). I’m not even sure if they ended up putting anything in the space.

They must be a lot like me … always at the bottom of their own priority list.

Deep-Six: City of Calgary 2008 Annual Report

Well, in 2008, the times were a’changing … but maybe not the best time to get too conspicuous about it.

Although The City of Calgary held strong through the troubled economic times, this concept for the 2008 Annual Report was slowly dissolved as it made it’s way up the ladder. Being this bold was a little too risky, even with the down to earth, grassroots presentation.

I was still quite pleased with the final layout, but I sure would have liked to have turned some heads with this one.

Deep-Six: City of Calgary UEP EDD 2012

When approached with the task of developing the creative for the The City of Calgary Utilities & Environmental Protection Employee Development Day 2012, the Creative Services team and I were requested to integrate the theme “Live, Work, Play, Learn” … and not all that much more. We had free range to come up with something fresh and unique to promote the event.

Considering the name of the event itself was a bit of a mouthful, I decided to develop a simple typographic execution that would bring the theme to the forefront without adding any other layers … let the words not only speak the message, but also be the visual carrier for the creative and literally show a connection between the themes.

The design was well received, but the event itself was cancelled shortly after the pitch, so as they say, that was that.

Is your Game Face ready yet?

With less than a month until the 2011 CFL Training Camp kicks off, the Calgary Stampeders 2011 advertising campaign is well underway.

This years campaign is pretty ambitious, but the message is simple: Stamps games are fun for everyone! The theme, entitled Get your Game Face on, features an ongoing series of portraits of players, fans, long-time season ticket holders, alumni and local celebrities. We’ve got quite the array of talent lined up — from Mayor Nenshi to Bret “Hitman” Hart!

If you’re around town, chances are you’ve seen a billboard, a flyer or one of the 100+ ads featured in the Calgary Herald.

Stay tuned. Their are a lot more to come … a few more surprises too.

It’s not where you’re going, it’s how you got there.

UPDATE (Oct. 1, 2012): Spacing Magazine featured the passes as part of their Creative Mapping feature, Cartographically Speaking (Fall 2012 National Issue).

Individually, the Calgary Transit 2011 Monthly Passes are pretty slick. The simple, typographic design utilizes vibrant colours and clear information—a specimen of form meeting function. The street map in the background adds a little depth and complexity for some extra oomph, but all in all, they aren’t too conceptual…until you piece together the 12 month set. Then things really come to life.

To depict one of Canada’s largest transit systems (with 4,500+ route kilometres), only one graphic element was used—the 2010-11 system map, split into 12 segments with each section overlapping a portion of the next, highlighting the routes with the highest ridership density.

Every inch of the transit system was used, ensuring every rider would eventually get to see their route at some point in the year.

Perhaps a little abstract, but still, this my ode to Massimo Vignelli’s iconic New York City Subway Diagrams.

You have to feel it to believe it

It’s becoming all too common to get items printed for as cheap as possible … or not at all. One feature after another seems to get cut out until a high end piece becomes an instant throw-away. This trend is a bit disappointing, but when an opportunity to do something on the contrary arises, it feels great … and in this case literally.

The Mawer Investment Management Corporate Brochure certainly breaks this trend; it’s a high end piece that you don’t want to put down, let alone throw away. It utilizes a double hit of Soft Touch™ aqueous coating, which imparts a velvet-like, “creamy” feel and adds a rich matte appearance. It feels like a million bucks (which is good considering Mawer manages over $7 billion worth of assets).

It’s a conversation piece of value; which is a conversation Mawer manages quite well.

Costa Rica > Calgary

I found myself cheerfully boasting “I’ve never left Calgary in the dead of winter” a few times before I left for Costa Rica a few weeks ago. But, since I’ve come home, all I have ringing in my ears is “I’ve never returned to Calgary in the dead of winter.” Ugh. It’s painful. The discrepancy in temperature is one thing (±60ºC), but what really hurts is the disparity in life. Calgary is desolate, Costa Rica is just teeming. Check out some of the select photos and I’m sure you’ll agree.

I’ve also posted a whole lot more on my Flickr page.

Excuse Me

With the prevalence of all those public service announcements for proper hand washing, coughing, sneezing, etc., The City of Calgary thought a simple reminder about the return of Flu Season would suffice, but when I heard them say the word “gross” when discussing potential directions, I knew we could have a little fun.

It’s the uncomfortable subtleties of elevators that are known for making people squirm, but I thought we could put one aspect front and centre to reinforce our message — elevators can be kinda gross. This way, no matter where you’re headed, having a sneeze, cough, dirty hands or bacteria staring you in the face will help keep things top of mind … and maybe you’ll want to hit that sanitizer station one more time on the way out.

Knowing that the execution would only be as effective as the ‘textures’, I knew authenticity was essential … so a few gulps of non-toxic paint, a palm-sized ink pad with a creative concoction and even an (unsuccessful) attempt at bacteria growth in a petri dish seemed to do the trick … made for a couple fun ‘craft days’ at the studio too.

Head down to the Municipal Building downtown to check’em out. Probably best before lunch though.

Five Highest Play Counts (…so far)

It may seem irrelevant (and a bit narcissistic) to list my most-listened-to albums from the past five years, but when you work solo and listen to an average of 8 hours of music a day, some albums become more than just filler … they become a support system.
1. Neutral Milk Hotel — In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998)
Ol’ reliable. This lo-fi indie-rock album is as powerful as it is catchy … and perhaps the best sing-along album of all time. When this one comes on it’s a damn good thing I work alone.
2. Sleigh Bells – Treats (2010)
Even though this one is still less than a year old, it has already climbed it’s way up the list. The Brooklyn-based duo has redefined musical fusion with their debut release. With hints of electro, metal, hip-hop, thrash and even radio-pop, this one always seems to satisfy. You’re sure to hear this one (from across the street) on deadline day.
3. Death From Above 1979 – You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine (2004)
When I first started working solo I took on a lot of long hours and late nights … and I don’t think I could have got through it without this (now defunct) dance-punk group’s coup de grâce. Works just like caffeine without the jitters.
4. LCD Soundsystem — Sound of Silver (2007)
I’ve listened to a lot of electronic music in my day, but this album seems to be one of the few with any significant lasting power. The simplicity of this progressive, post-punk album is what does it for me. I’ve listened to this 9-song album on repeat for a full work day more than a few times.
5. The Black Angels — Passover (2006)
When I first came across this psych-rock album I must have listened to it a dozen times in the first week. It buzzes and hisses in a receptive drone of distortion telling the story of “wartime terror” so convincingly it’s like watching a movie. I still throw it on for concept development inspiration; chances are it’s been done before, so just do it again with a perfect execution.
Honourable Mention: Beck — Mellow Gold (1994)
Yea, I’m a Loser baby; part of that special breed that’ll never be able to let go. I don’t like to take things too seriously and love my nostalgia, so I’m sure I’ll keep coming back on this one as long as I hunch over a computer.

Five Years, Five Seasons

Calgary Stampeders: 5 Years, 5 Seasons
The Calgary Stampeders have sure seen a lot over the past five seasons and I have been honoured to be a part of it all. Although my contribution is made far away from the turf (and certainly doesn’t require that of an athlete), I do consider the amount of work and the timelines to be quite the work out.

Each season a new visual identity needs to be developed that engages the fans (both new and old), from the pre-season to the playoffs. The essential deliverables range from items as simple as a mini football that gets tossed into the stands, to a complex 250-page stat book that gets distributed around the country. The Season Ticket Holder package and the corresponding promotional advertising are definitely the principal material, but I truly enjoy being involved in the full spectrum.

Check out the 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 posts for a quick glimpse into the creative communications of the last five years, five seasons of the Calgary Stampeders creative communications.

2010: The Ongoing Legacy

Calgary Stampeders 2010 Creative

The 2010 season was a year of big milestones for the Stampeders — they celebrated both their 65th anniversary and 50 years of football in their home, McMahon Stadium. The timeline/ribbon flowed throughout the material, representing the continuing tradition of the Stampeders Ongoing Legacy honouring the players of the past and the legends of the future.

2010 Advertising Samples:

2009: Our Champions Return

Calgary Stampeders 2009 Creative
With the club’s 6th Grey Cup Championship still fresh in the minds of Calgarians, it made all too much sense to have the returning players, Our Champions, do the communicating. Individual players were featured and inspirational quotes (even autographs) were used to help personalize the men behind the helmets. Vibrant colours and high contrasts used throughout the creative helped carry that celebratory feeling throughout the season. (On a side note, the Stampeders 2009 Season Ticket Holder base turned out to be the highest in CFL history with nearly 30,000 Season Tickets sold. I’d like to think it was all due to the creative, but I’m sure the 2008 Championship win and the 2009 Grey Cup seating rights had a bit to do with it.)

2009 Advertising Samples:

2008: Calculating Horsepower

Calgary Stampeders 2008 Creative

Long before the big win in November, it was clear that 2008 was going to be a big year. John Hufnagel, the new Head Coach and GM was instated in the off-season, the roster was refreshed and reenergized and there was even a shuffle in the administration. So, to portray this systematic revival, the creative was focused on quantifiable ways of calculating Calgary’s Horsepower; what the Stampeders mean to the fans — the tradition of the club, the energy of the stadium, the intensity of the defence, the excitement of the action … and the results of the games.

2008 Advertising Samples:

2007: One City. One Team. One Goal.

Calgary Stampeders 2007 Creative

Unity was essential to the success of the Stampeders 2007 campaign, so the theme was established to help inspire the team on the field and the fans in the stands. Somewhat ominous creative was developed to help generate intrigue and arouse interest for the season ahead … but we also had a little fun with the theme too. Unfortunately, in the end, it was the lack of unity that was the demise of the team during the playoffs for the second year in a row.

2007 Advertising Samples:

2006: Live the Action

Calgary Stampeders 2006 Creative

After years of disappointment on and off the field, things finally started to turn around for the organization throughout the 2005 season — it was a true breakout year for the team. The Live the Action/Live Action play on words, coupled with the bursting imagery was developed to illustrate the excitement of the live experience and highlight those breakout players who would lead the charge.

2006 Advertising Samples:

High Five!

High fives all around! October 4, 2010 marks the 5th anniversary of the inception of I.R. DESIGN! Woo!
The last five years have been a phenomenal, life-changing experience thanks to my loyal clients, colleagues and partners — they’ve helped me flourish as a graphic designer, a business professional and an individual. A lot has happened — from months of 16-hour days working away in my basement studio, to a brief stint teaching typesetting at SAIT … even a most-expenses-paid trip to Altona, Manitoba in the middle of winter! I can only imagine what the next five years will bring.
Check back over the next few months as I unveil a series of Top Five picks, lists and recaps from the past 5 years.

Will work for View

Olympic Plaza Fall 2010

The view I have this month couldn’t be any further from the one  in the basement dungeon I call a home office … it’s a bit distracting to say the least.

For the entire month of September I have been working onsite at the Municipal Building downtown with the Creative Services department of The City of Calgary. And, although the weather has been less than pleasant so far, today alone has been well worth the wait.

Stay tuned. I’m in the midst of a handful of very interesting projects that are worth sharing as they wrap up.

Type in Tuxedo

Over the past few months I have noticed an abundance of hand painted, manually set, naturally weathered and just plain interesting typography in my community — Tuxedo Park. So, I decided I’d take advantage of all the nice weather and take my camera on a little jaunt through the community to see what I could find … I was pleasantly surprised. Enjoy.

Calgary: ‘Cloudy’ with chance of clearing

With the height of the great recession behind us, The City of Calgary was ‘Moving Forward’ in 2009 and I was assigned with the task of developing creative to represent this theme … and to accentuate the online presence of their 2009 Corporate Annual Report. The solution was to develop a bold, optimistic composition reminiscent of a digital tag cloud.
The document is literally stacked with keywords, images and graphics from the year’s big projects, events and achievements. The major accomplishments are unveiled using expanding four-page spreads — a tangible pop-up window. Full details that are only hinted to in the printed version are available in the interactive website.

The creative for the 2008 Corporate Annual Report was much more subdued to suit the times. Calgary was somewhat sheltered from the economic turmoil in 2008, but The City needed to ensure they portrayed prudent fiscal management at all levels.

125 years: 12.5 months in the making

Over a year of solid work on a single project may see like a lot in my line of work … but pales in comparison to the dedication of the men and women in uniform.
Yours For Life: 125 Years of Courage, Compassion and Service from the Calgary Fire Department, a joint labour researched and written by Judy Monchuk and designed by yours truly, was released this summer to help celebrate the Calgary Fire Department’s (CFD) 125th Anniversary. The 112 pages of stories, photographs, personal accounts and a handful of other articles and ephemera not only chronicle the major events in the CFD history, but also tell the story of the growth of the city of Calgary and the world events that impacted it’s citizens.

Historical integrity was essential to the success of the design — the book needed to look as authentic as the stories themselves. Hundreds of hours were required to get everything in place, but also to ensure the colours, textures, photographs and subtle elements were perfected for reproduction.

The initial challenge was to establish a structure, format and style that would ensure the proper flow and progression, but would also allow for opportunities to break the mould. The book spans six generations of fashions, fads and trends, so a stagnant presentation would not give the depth such a rich history deserves. A constant search was required to find authentic textures and design elements so each story, time and place was given it’s own personality.
The book can be purchased from the Firefighters Museum of Calgary for $35 with all proceeds going directly to the Firefighters Museum.

(Arts and) Craft Beer

Two out of five ain’t so bad!
The first batch of I.R. Brew Co.’s Crawling Bird Brown Ale didn’t taste, smell or sound(??) all that good, but boy she sure looked the part … and felt great going down. Custom screen printed labels, stock tags, coasters, posters and even promotional t-shirts were produced to help commemorate the release.

I ♥ NY

It may be cliché, but it’s certainly well put — I ♥ NY! It’s a city of a million things at once all the time … so filling 5 days without any pre-planning was an easy task. Check out a few select photos from our recent excursion to the Big Apple.

This is not a blog, it just looks like it

Welcome to Design.ca — the new online presence of I.R. DESIGN. Although it may look a lot like a blog, I assure you it is not. Think of it as an empty shell that will come to life from the content within (rather than the other way around). It’ll be easy, intuitive … and finally up-to-date.
The site will feature my current design projects, installations, photographs and other creations. I’ll throw in the occasional link to local interests … and will do my best to limit my rants and raves.
My old website will still be alive and kicking (think of it as a chicken with it’s head cut off), but so much has changed in the last year or so, that I think it’s best to just let it die.
Make sure to come back often as I have a lot of catching up to do.